What Is so Attractive About Shapeshifters?

Updated on October 25, 2019
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

People seem to be going head-over-heels for novels about shapeshifters. Why? This article explores this issue in depth.
People seem to be going head-over-heels for novels about shapeshifters. Why? This article explores this issue in depth. | Source

There has been an increase in the number of books being published with shapeshiters, weres, and other similar creatures. Everywhere you look, there are ads for these books all over the internet and even in the local bookstores. They range from horror stories to explicit romances. Don't believe me? Go to a bookstore and walk around. Even the used bookstores are overrun with them.

What is the attraction of them? Why are so many readers loving to read about shapeshifters? Well, I did an informal survey and this is what I found from many readers and writers.

Primal Actions

Shapeshifters as seen in today’s literature typically reveal a very primal soul. The shifter, or were, is usually animalistic in tendencies and personality. The line between animal and man is very thinly drawn.

Their senses are heightened and respond quickly. A smell that a simple human cannot pick up is potent to that of a shapeshifter. Just as a dog can hear things a human cannot, a shifter can pick up a presence long before a human can.

With heightened senses come heightened emotions. Most shifters are possessive, get angry easily, and love deeply. They tend to be more reactive which battles against their more logical human side. This tends to make them great characters to use in many stories. Passive is not something they understand or empathize with.


There has always been a fascination with magical creatures. They can do things humans cannot which draws readers to them. They stretch beyond the boundaries science puts on us and gives us so much more potential through these characters.

Being different is usually appealing, and with magic, they are even more so. Shifters can do what many people would love to do. Some would enjoy running through the woods at amazing speeds and feel the power in their legs as they moved over the earth. Others would love to be able to fly through the air and feel the wind through their feathers. Magic has always been attractive to readers and probably will be for quite some time.


Most shapeshifters are unpredictable. What will cause them to change? Will they allow their emotions to rule and let their inner beast out? You never know how they will react in a situation. What will win out: the human side or the primal side? That gives an author a lot to work with and many different scenes to play with.

Conflict is vital to a story. An unpredictable shapeshifter can increase that conflict and give the story the tension it needs. Through this unpredictability, the story has many different ways it could go which keeps the reader glued to the pages.


Another thing that pulls readers in is the versatility of the shapeshifter. They are not regulated to one world and the laws of it. They can move between worlds and aren’t restricted by one’s laws or the other. If the human legs cannot get them to their destination fast enough, they will turn into a bear, cheetah, wolf, or eagle to get the increased speed needed.

Most times, the animal senses are still used in the human body. On two legs, a shapeshifter can still have the hearing of a wolf or the eyesight of an eagle. The two sides of the shapeshifter might stay combined in either form.

Internal Struggle

Many books portray the shapeshifter with internal struggles: the struggle between the human side and the animalistic side. The two halves might be in one body, but they don’t always agree or get along. This can represent what many people feel within themselves as they struggle in real life. The shapeshifter has a much more dynamic struggle that could be deadly if not handled correctly. Yet they can be something the reader can relate to.

Every character has a struggle, but a shapeshifter has more. The dynamics are much broader and the potential is nearly unlimited.

So, why are shapeshifters so attractive to readers? It all comes down to the mystery, power, and struggle of the shapeshifter whether it be a werewolf, werecat, or any other were animal. Readers love them or hate them probably for all the exact same reasons. Which shapeshifter is your favorite to read about?


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